Special election coming on June 27 in Iowa House district 22

Voters in Iowa House district 22 will choose a successor to the late State Representative Greg Forristall on Tuesday, June 27, in accordance with a proclamation Governor Terry Branstad issued today. The district covers a small portion of Council Bluffs and most of Pottawattamie County outside that city (see map above).

Special district conventions, tentatively scheduled for May 30, will determine the Democratic and Republican candidates for House district 22. Forristall’s widow and longtime clerk, Carol Forristall, will seek the GOP nomination, but others are expected to compete at the Republican district convention as well. (The late State Senator Pat Ward’s widower did not win the 2012 nominating convention in Senate district 2012.) The conservative blog Iowa Statesman reported that some locals recruited Naomi Corrie to run for the seat. Corrie was heavily involved as a volunteer for former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and new State Senator Dan Dawson, and has “been a Council Bluffs organizer for Senator [Joni] Ernst and Lt. Gov [Kim] Reynolds.” However, Corrie ruled herself out of this race today.

The GOP will be heavily favored to hold House district 22, where more than twice as many voters are registered Republicans as Democrats. However, an activist reported on Facebook this evening that as many as a dozen people have already contacted Pottawattamie County Democratic Chair Linda Nelson to express interest in the race. Anything can happen in a low-turnout special election.

Forristall had a Democratic opponent for his first election in 2006 but did not face a Democratic challenger in his 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, or 2016 re-election bids.

Throwback Thursday: When Greg Forristall fought against putting commerce ahead of education

Republican State Representative Greg Forristall passed away yesterday at the age of 67. First elected to the Iowa House in 2006, he was most recently vice chair of the Education Committee and also served on the Human Resources, Labor, and Ways and Means committees. He had been battling cancer for some time and was too ill to participate in the last few weeks of this year’s legislative session.

In a written statement, Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kaufmann described Forristall as a “friend to conservatives across our state” and a “happy warrior” in the Ronald Reagan tradition. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said Forristall “was a dedicated public servant to the people he represented and an advocate for the arts and education, two issues that he was incredibly passionate for.”

I never met Forristall, but one episode stands out for me as I think about his legislative career. The first two years after Republicans regained their Iowa House majority, Forristall chaired the Education Committee. House leaders reassigned him to lead the Labor Committee in 2013, a position he retained through the 2016 legislative session.

Why did then House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Upmeyer take the Education Committee away from Forristall, knowing how much he cared about that issue? I never saw any public confirmation, but the Iowa political rumor mill pointed to Forristall’s stance on one controversial bill.

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